Wednesday, December 9, 2015

By Kamal Mishra

Pune-Howrah service was truncated at Kalyan; bookings were opened two hours before the departure because of poor coordination between Central Railway and South Eastern Railway.

A special holiday train, from Pune to Howrah, truncated its journey after three stops on Monday afternoon as there were only three passengers on board.

The train numbered number 02221, with 15 air-conditioned coaches, received only three bookings because of poor coordination between the Central Railway and South Eastern Railway, which introduced the rake to cater to the 'holiday rush'.

Bookings for the service, with halts at Lonavala, Karjat, Panvel and Kalyan, were opened only a couple of hours before the scheduled departure of 10.40 am on Monday. Railway officials delayed the departure by over an hour, but the move failed to draw passengers.

The train, which left Pune at 12.10 pm, was cancelled when it stopped at Kalyan. The three passengers, who had 15 AC coaches to themselves, were accommodated in other trains.

According to Central Railway sources, the shortened four-hour trip cost the railways around Rs 1 lakh.

Generally, when a special train is introduced, railway officials at the point of origin list it in their passenger reservation system, enabling people to book seats. In this case, the Central Railway failed to list the train in the system, which meant that passengers had no clue that a Pune-Howrah service would be run on Monday.

An official of the South Eastern Railway said that a notification for the service was sent to CR on December 4. CR sources said that the notification was received, but because of a bungling clerk, it was read only on Monday morning.

When a CR official noticed the listing of the train in the departure schedule, he immediately contacted the Pune division, which confirmed that the Pune-Howrah service had been added.

CR opened bookings after the train arrived at its platform in Pune around 9 am. The train's departure was pushed to 12.10 pm in the hope that passengers would book seats. But only three people boarded the train in Pune.

The train was run till Kalyan before officials finally decided to cancel it. The empty rake returned to Pune, according to an official at Kalyan station said.

BK Dadabhoy, divisional railway manager of Pune, said the truncated service was the result of miscommunication. "Because of poor occupancy, we had to cancel the train," he said.

A CR official, who didn't want to be named, said that better coordination between different railway zones was needed to prevent such embarrassments.

Subhash Gupta, a member of zonal railway users' consultative council, was more critical. "How did this happen? What are rail officers sitting in air-conditioned cabins doing?" he asked.

Transport expert Vinod Kumar said that it was sheer waste of public funds.

WHAT WENT WRONG?

Generally, when a special train is introduced, railway officials at the point of origin list it in their passenger reservation system, enabling people to book seats. In this case, the Central Railway failed to list the train in the system, which meant that passengers had no clue that a Pune-Howrah service would be run on Monday morning. An official of South Eastern Railway says CR was informed on December 4.

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